Reader Poems — Henry Medina

Reader Henry Medina responded to a number of prompts with fevered writing. I’d like to challenge him to disarticulate these and write a poem!

Response to prompt:  Hell’s Zip Code (

The car hits me with an atrocious blow. In a thousand directions my scream flies. This instant, this pain is called hell. Ay Dios, I pray, Santificado, why is there more pain in the world than desire? For an instant I see the zip code on the blue plaque that reads the name of the street. Ay Dios, why is hell so close?

Response to prompt: Dreams Worth More than Money (album title, Meek Mill)

My head fell with the weight of the dollars that grew like hair. I was a green horse, tussling my mane of money. They offered me to run in the Kentucky Derby, but I said why if I already have more money than desire. I prance with airs, my tail of money sweeping the streets of the poor.

Response to prompt: Dreams Worth More than Money (album title, Meek Mill)

In the year 2002 I decided to desiccate myself like a mummy. My heart I donated to illusion, and the centimeters of my soul to profit. Without faith, without eyelids, I examine the world. The living dead, we recognize we each other. The scent of rotting dreams more alluring than money.

Response to prompt: Slavery to Vegetables (

In this garden celery rules with a whip of leather. Yes, it killed the cow to arm its tools of torture. The white owl that traversed the sky, it pierced it with the javelin of the TV antenna. The animals in terror hide themselves in their cages. Only I, naked and accustomed to slavery, serve under the shadow of the curly hair of the celery.

Response to prompt: “I’m No Longer Afraid” ( cut)

I’m no longer afraid, I told the saw that cut me in half. I no longer fear your jaw, I said touching the teeth of the mermaid who had torn me to shreds. On the beach there were many dead mermaids rustling like potato sacks in the breakers. To my questioning look, the fanged mermaid said, “We are cannibals.” The dead king could not offer me advice. His head went sliding in one direction, and the wind offered me passage in another direction.

Best Reader Poem we receive in August will be awarded a $25 prize. Poem can be in response to the August prompts, the fevered writing or the poems posted. We must receive it by midnight on August 31.


April Poetry Prompts

Okay, poets, it’s National Poetry Month and you know you’re gonna be writing some poems. So why not enter a Reader Poem here, for a chance to win $25? Use one of these prompts to inspire you, or you can wait until our fevered writing gets posted.

Poetry Prompts from Angela Peñaredondo:

• Dis-Assembly Lines: gestures, situations, and surveillances (from Women & Performance Journal)

• A Garden & Honey Do’s (Courier Journal)

• Secrets of Velvet Worm Slime (International New York Times)

• There he was, sheepish and handsome on the elevated platform (The New Yorker, April 9, 2001)

Poetry Prompts from Terry Wolverton:
  • At Pepperdine’s Surf Chapel, prayers some in waves (L.A. Times)
  • Herd of goats gets loose, chases children (Huffington Post/Weird News)
  • If you’re reading this, it’s too late (album title, by Drake)

All prompts are drawn from the media — print, broadcast or social media.

Readers are encouraged to write and submit poems of your own, inspired by one or more of these prompts. There will be a $25 prize for the best poem we receive from a reader in April..

Reader poem by Trista Hurley-Waxali

Trista Hurley-Waxali wrote this reader poem in response to one of February’s prompts:

Dying shouldn’t be so brutal:

Dying is worth exploring as something
beyond sad. Something that reminds us of the
boundaries we create to keep our minds
and hearts at ease.

Death gives us an ability we take for
granted, for it teaches us to grieve and forgive.
Acceptance can be reached anywhere
if you open your mind to the truth of your surroundings,
that nothing is forever.

This ability is forged so we don’t crumble at the sight of blood.
To rather keep standing next to friends who lose
family members. A strength we fence together,
rather than self-loath over
illnesses or the sudden act.

For in nature there are accidental fallings of bugs into webs
and raccoons splattered on asphalt. Each of us
have a fate that lies within the walls of life.
So it is time to build up and stay emotionally safe and sound:
within the confined area.